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When is it Acceptable to Growl?

Zipped lip

Have you ever been in a situation where you kept your opinions or thoughts to yourself instead of expressing them to those around you? 

What stopped you from sharing your view in the office, with family and friends or even with a significant other? 

Communicate Like a Dog

When it comes to these instances, I do my best to truly live like my dogs. Their language skills are top notch. I am not kidding. 

Dogs typically bark when they need something or if there is danger. However, they use their growl as a warning signal before a bark is ever needed. 

For example, my dog Bella doesn't like to feel cramped in a corner. She goes to the corner of the room for some zen time. So if the other dogs or our family gather around her in this situation, she will growl to let us know that now is not the time. She tells us how she feels without causing a stir.

More Growl, More Clarity

Why can't we use our growl more often? Speaking your mind doesn't have to be the equivalent of a cat fight on a soap opera. 

In fact, I have found that the more times I have growled, especially when it comes to my work, other people have respected me more because they know that I have a backbone. 

However, it took me a while to feel comfortable with my growl. 

Instead, in my personal life, I used to hold in my true feelings and then go on a barking spree where I would get so mad that my teeth would show. In the office, I let the thoughts I wanted to say swirl around in my head and never communicated what I was thinking unless it seemed like I was in a safe setting.

I was all bark and no growl. 

How Did I Ever Survive Without It?

About five years ago, when I was still working in TV Production, I had an experience where I needed my growl but could only manager a whimper.

For a week, I was working with a producer who typically doesn't work as a producer. This woman's regular job required her to find dynamic guests to be interviewed by our show host. Meanwhile, each week, I was on the front lines, actually putting together the program.

This producer was more senior to me and took advantage of that when I did a task in a way that she didn't approve (yet the big bosses always approved of this). 

She asked me to join her at the Starbucks in our office building. I obliged.

Just as I started sipping my English Breakfast Tea, it began.

A flogging about how she is completely in charge and I need to hang on her every word. A floggling about how she has 15 more years of experience in this industry and knows better. A flogging that I had no words or growl for which ultimately ended in me dissovling into a pile of tears in front of other co-workers who were filing through Starbucks for their morning caffeine jolt. 

It was a ridiculous situation. 

Perfecting a Growl

As a reflect on it now, had a growled and respectfully declined to sit in this public place while she beat me to a pulp, it would have saved me a lot of angst and embarassment. 

For three weeks after the Starbucks incident, it still played through my mind as if I were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Also, whenever I passed this woman in the hallway I felt her gaze searing through me.

Ultimately, I got over it but I wasted so much time being bothered by someone else's nonesense.

From that point on, I started perfecting my growl. Sometimes, it came off as a bark and I apologized. However, over time, my growl has hit the right tone.

Do you have a growl and is it set to the right volume?

By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at






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Margot Ahlquist


Maybe your growl is supposed to be loud? :)


Julia Walderzak

I need to work on my growl! It always seems to be too loud.

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